Mario Balotelli on his way to Liverpool ahead of medical but won't face Man City on Monday
Mario Balotelli on his way to Liverpool ahead of medical but won’t be eligible to face former club Manchester City on Monday night
- Player to fly from Brescia airport at on Friday
- Private plane will jet striker to Liverpool to complete his medical on Friday afternoon
- Liverpool have agreed £16million deal with AC Milan
- Balotelli not registered by midday deadline, cannot play against City
- Club have agreed a contract with the Italian
Italian striker of Ghanaian descent Mario Balotelli is set to arrive in England on Friday afternoon ahead of a move to Liverpool as the club have reached an agreement with the player’s representatives.
The former Manchester City striker is close to signing for Brendan Rodgers’ side but the club and will be flying out imminently to complete the deal.
However the Italian striker will not be available to make his Liverpool debut against former club Manchester City on Monday night, with the registration deadline of midday having passed.
Welcome: Balotelli is set to join Steven Gerrard at Liverpool after he completes a medical on Friday afternoon
Unregistered: Balotelli has not been registered as of midday Friday, so cannot play against Man City
Balotelli’s agent held discussions on Thursday and Friday, with a key point believed to be the Merseyside outfit’s desire to obtain some kind of guarantee about the discipline of the mercurial 24-year-old Italy international.
The player on Thursday added credence to the reports that he is set to return to English football by saying it would be his last day at Milan’s training ground.
The Serie A side followed that later with a statement on their website revealing he had said his farewells to his team-mates.
Liverpool have been looking for a marquee striker to replace the departed Luis Suarez this summer but their interest in Balotelli represents a remarkable about-turn from around three weeks ago.
Boarding: Balotelli, pictured here last year, is flying to Liverpool on Friday to complete the deal
Leaving: Balotelli revealed on Thursday that he would be leaving Milan
Agreed: What Balotelli might look like in a Liverpool shirt, after he agreed personal terms with the club
LIVERPOOL’S SUMMER SIGNINGS
Adam Lallana – Southampton, £23m
Lazar Markovic – Benfica, £20m
Alberto Moreno – Sevilla, £12m
Emre Can – Bayer Leverkusen, £9.8m
Rickie Lambert – Southampton, £4m
Dejan Lovren – Southampton, £20m
Divock Origi – Lille, £10m
Javier Manquillo – Atletico Madrid, loan
Mario Balotelli – AC Milan, £16m
When the Reds played Milan in a friendly in the United States, manager Brendan Rodgers expressed admiration for Balotelli but subsequently “categorically” said he was not a target.
Recently, however, a move for QPR’s Loic Remy has collapsed while interest in former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o has cooled and attempts to sign Radamel Falcao from Monaco seem unrealistic.
With new signing Rickie Lambert the only frontline support for Daniel Sturridge and the transfer deadline nearing, a move for Balotelli has apparently become more attractive.
Balotelli is a proven performer and scored Italy’s winner in the World Cup opener against England in Manaus.
But the baggage that comes with him is considerable. His spell at City from summer 2010 to January 2013 was a whirlwind one, with occasional sparkling performances interspersed with volatility on the field and erratic behaviour off it.
Title race: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers sprints to keep up with Rickie Lambert and Steven Gerrard
Out of time: Brendan Rodgers has not been able to complete the deal in time for Balotelli to face City
Prepared: Rodgers is ready to welcome Balotelli for his medical after agreeing personal terms with the striker
His numerous misdemeanours famously included fireworks being set off in his bathroom, throwing a dart at a youth-team player and training-ground bust-ups with team-mates and manager Roberto Mancini.
On the positive side he played a key role in the 2011 FA Cup win and contributed to the following year’s Premier League success, but he also hindered progress by accruing four red cards.
City – for whom he scored a total of 30 goals in 80 appearances in all competitions – eventually tired of the circus surrounding him and offloaded the former Inter Milan player to his boyhood club AC Milan.
Proven: Balotelli has scored goals in the Premier League before, and has international experience for Italy
Jetting in: Balotelli, pictured with his girlfriend Fanny Neguesha, is flying to Liverpool on Friday